Spilman Short never figured he’d end up in the antique business.
Less than a week after announcing he would shut down the Midlothian Antique Center for defaulting on its lease, Short, the principle at real estate firm Diversified Realty Ventures, has reopened the business as Coalfield Station Antiques.
Short said the former proprietors were about $100,000 behind on rent when they were kicked out of the building, cutting into the livelihoods of about 60 antiques vendors with booths inside at the mall.
One of the vendors, who asked not to be named because of his work in the corrections field, approached DRV with a business plan, and the firm decided to back him.
“I felt a lot of responsibility for this place,” the vendor said. “I’ve got a lot of friends in here. There are some great people, and I didn’t want to see them all put out of work. So I brought it to Spilman and put it together in three days.”
Short held a town hall meeting with the vendors late last week, describing the plan for the space and inviting them to reopen their booths in the newly christened Coalfield Station Antiques.
“Out of the 60, with very few exceptions, they all decided to reopen,” Short said.
DRV, which owns the Midlothian Station Shopping Center where Coalfield is located, backed the business plan and took ownership of the business.
Short, who has been in the commercial real estate business for 30 years, said he never imagined he’d be in the antique business.
“I always wanted to get in the restaurant business,” he said. “That’s where I got my start. You know, bar tending and waiting tables. Being in antiques doesn’t bother me, though. I just don’t want to lose any money. We’ve looked at the business model, and we think there is enough revenue in it to support the expenses.”
The first thing Short plans to do for his new business is fix the place up. DRV is investing more than $100,000 in the business to remodel the interior. The company is also going to expand the space and is getting ready to lease 10,000 square feet to a new tenant, whom Short declined to name, citing ongoing negotiations
The vendor who approached Short with the business plan — and who pulled three consecutive 16-hour days to get everything in shape — will run day-to-day operations.